Ar­ti­cle fa­mously de­clared in the 1980s that a sin­gle, ter­tiary-ed­u­cated, 40-year-old woman had more chance of be­ing killed in a ter­ror­ist attack than get­ting mar­ried. It was re­fer­ring to the no­to­ri­ously bru­tal New York dat­ing scene, but th­ese days, it see

Hong Kong Tatler - - Features -

NEWSWEEK

And the elite of Hong Kong have it harder than most, as par­ties in Phuket, polo matches in Ar­gentina and of­fices in six time zones can wreak havoc with your dat­ing sched­ule. “We cater to high-so­ci­ety Hongkongers who are find­ing it dif­fi­cult to meet a part­ner,” says Claire Sweet­ing­ham, who runs the up­mar­ket Lon­don-based match­mak­ing agency Gray & Far­rar. “There are a num­ber of rea­sons for this. First, Hong Kong is a small place and con­fi­den­tial­ity is a big thing. Peo­ple come across each other ev­ery day and they don’t want to jeop­ar­dise pro­fes­sional re­la­tion­ships by hang­ing around in bars. That means meet­ing like-minded peo­ple is hard, as there are few ways of ex­tend­ing one’s so­cial reach in a dig­ni­fied and pri­vate way. Sec­ond, Hong Kong is a tran­sient place and our clients strug­gle to meet gen­uine in­di­vid­u­als who want a long-term, com­mit­ted part­ner­ship. Ca­sual re­la­tion­ships are easy to find but this is not what our clients want—they’d rather be alone than be with the wrong per­son.”

An at­trac­tive 33-year-old heiress I meet for cof­fee con­firms it can be a love­less world out there. “I think there’s a lot of stigma about be­ing sin­gle af­ter a cer­tain age in Hong Kong. I get so much grief from my par­ents, who are des­per­ate for grand­chil­dren and think I’m too fo­cused on run­ning my com­pany to meet a man. Ap­par­ently guys are all in­tim­i­dated by me,” she says. “I know my fam­ily are try­ing to mo­ti­vate me to go out and meet some­one, but when­ever I do it feels like all the sin­gle guys are ei­ther play­ers who are only in­ter­ested in go­ing to bars and chat­ting up mod­els, or they’re too fo­cused on build­ing their ca­reers to think about get­ting mar­ried.”

There are un­doubt­edly many who rel­ish the wilder side of Hong Kong nightlife—the ones for whom the ideas of mar­riage and chil­dren play sec­ond fid­dle to a third round of cock­tails at Dragon-i. “The other day my fa­ther told me off for be­ing an eter­nal Peter Pan,” a 31-year-old high-fly­ing bach­e­lor re­cently told me at a so­ci­ety party. “I thought about it and de­cided I’m ac­tu­ally more of a Cap­tain Hook, be­cause ev­ery time I go on a date, I feel like I’m be­ing deaf­ened by the tick­tock of women’s bi­o­log­i­cal clocks.”

Does this mean the city’s sin­gle women are be­ing un­fairly cast in a des­per­ate Brid­get Jones role? “That tired stereo­type is not only out­dated, it’s wrong,” says Sweet­ing­ham. “Ab­so­lutely every­body views dat­ing as a men’s mar­ket, and there’s this fab­ri­cated idea that there are lots of women in Hong Kong who are find­ing it dif­fi­cult to meet some­one and

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